Justin Amash

Rep. Justin Amash Says Americans Are Becoming More Libertarian—And Congress Will Too.

'Our pro-liberty caucus is growing every year.'

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Justin Amash
Justin Amash / Facebook

Is the libertarian message winning? Coasting toward a major electoral victory next week, freedom-friendly Congressman Justin Amash certainly thinks so—even if Washington, D.C. isn't listening yet.

The libertarian Republican, who hails from a right-leaning district in western Michigan, is widely expected to win reelection on November 4. He already passed the real test: a significant primary challenge from a well-funded opponent backed by neoconservative and corporatist critics of Amash's views. The challenger, Brian Ellis, stooped as low as he could go, releasing an ad that accused Amash of being "al-Qaida's best friend in Congress" due to the representative's opposition to NSA spying and unauthorized wars.

The ad backfired. District voters preferred Amash's brand of skeptical anti-government conservatism to Ellis's Bush-era demagoguery.

"It felt great to get a big win," Amash told Reason in an interview. "The people of the district came out and said they like what I am offering, which is independent conservative representation, libertarian representation… My challenger was offering run of the mill, establishment big government Republicanism. People are tired of that."

Amash is optimistic that what's true for his district is true for the country at large. A growing cross-partisan swath of the electorate is concerned about issues near and dear to the hearts of libertarians, including police brutality, spying, and drone warfare.

But that doesn't mean Congress is getting on board. Leadership, in particular, remains as hopeless as ever, according to Amash.

"Congress is delayed by five or 10 years," said Amash. "But I'm hopeful some of that will start to change. The public is more libertarian, the public is saying we want people who are going to be independent and not bow to leadership in either of the major parties."

First elected to Congress during the Tea Party wave of 2010, Amash says subsequent elections brought more representatives who are sympathetic to the views of an increasingly libertarian electorate into the fold.

"Our pro-liberty caucus is growing every year," he said.

He credits Sen. Rand Paul for breaking ground as a libertarian-aligned U.S. senator and continuing to draw attention to the cause via his widely-expected presidential run.

"There's no doubt that Rand Paul has a more libertarian perspective than senators from years past and there's no doubt that it's broadly appealing to the public," said Amash. "You're seeing widespread support for Rand Paul and a lot of other presidential candidates or prospective presidential candidates are going to adopt many of his positions with the hopes of expanding their base."

Post-election, Amash wants to throw himself back into the civil liberties battle immediately. Privacy and police brutality are two issues the pro-liberty caucus could tackle, given the public's enduring interest in scaling back NSA surveillance as a result of the Edward Snowden leaks, and the fallout from the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri.

Amash is also still bothered by President Obama's unauthorized war against ISIS in Syria, which he said is clearly unconstitutional.

"The president doesn't have any authority to run a full-scale war without Congressional authorization," said Amash. "And he hasn't received any Congressional authorization."

Amash was equally critical of Congressional leaders Republican House Speaker John Boehner and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who allowed lawmakers to leave Washington, D.C. on August recess without debating Obama's ISIS plan. His willingness to speak out against government overreach, whether propagated by Republicans or Democrats, has made enemies of some powerful people in D.C., but is undoubtedly endearing him to conservative and independent voters, as well as libertarians and anti-authoritarian liberals. He isn't letting up anytime soon.

"The wall we face right now is that leadership and the president and the chairman of several key committees are controlled by people who are anti-privacy and who are pushing for greater government control of our lives and our information," said Amash.

Despite the significant hurdles, Amash remains genuinely optimistic that the future is bright for the cause of liberty.

"Things aren't going our way when it comes to the votes right now," he said. "But we are seeing things change at home in our districts and we are seeing things change with respect to the newly elected members in both parties. There is a belief in liberty that is deeply ingrained in Americans, and when we see it starting to slip away, we push back against the system."

More from Reason on Justin Amash here.

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  1. Despite the significant hurdles, Amash remains genuinely optimistic that the future is bright for the cause of liberty.

    More like this.

  2. Perhaps some tar and feathers applied to a few congress critters would help…you know…pour encourager les autres.

  3. …but is undoubtedly endearing him to conservative and independent voters, as well as libertarians and anti-authoritarian liberals.

    Care to offer any substantive support for that liberals part? I wish I could say it were true, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone on the left reference Amash as anything other than a “Teathuglican”.

    1. Puppet of the Kochtopus.

    2. It’s not specific to Amash, but I’ll say this. I’ve personally witnessed some very left millenials (god help me for using the term) upon encountering the federal government in a workplace refer to it as a “communist” environment, and being angry because they felt like their “freedom was being taken away.” And I’m talking about the last people you’d expect to say things like that. I’m a skeptic, but I love the Fed, because they make new Libertarians every day.

  4. anti-authoritarian liberals

    oxymoron.

    1. I was going to ask…

  5. So, even if the GOP takes the Senate in a few days and picks up even more house seats, as far as I know, we aren’t gaining even one additional libertarian or even libertarian leaner. Is that correct?

    1. You should run. I’d vote for you.

      1. Lol, you’d waste your vote. I’m unelectable, too many Skeletons. I’m way more notorious than Aqua Buddha.

        Best to just wait until the libertarian take over and then vote for me for Supreme Overlord.

        1. “Supreme Overlord, well I didn’t vote for ya”

          1. Well, you just blew your chance for that available ‘Minister of Tar and Feathers’ job.

            1. Can I still be an Eleventy Star General?

            2. Well, you just blew your chance for that available ‘Minister of Tar and Feathers’ job.

              Oh, science, I want this job! How much is the “application fee”?

            3. That’d be an awesome job. Can I dress like a court jester. And always have an enrgy drink in my hand? And drive an El-Camino, with my entourage in the back, as I rove the contryside looking for some asshole petty tyrant to terrorize? I can imagine that the rumor of my approach will precede my as I pull up into a small town, and the serfs will line the street holding up posters with names of pictures of those needing retribution as I enter the town. Puritanical goverment ass monkeys everywhere will use stories of me to scare their children.

              Shit, that got wierdly specific pretty fast. I’m going to shut up now.

              1. One more thng though: I want Kid Rock to be my vice-Deputy of Tar and Feathers.

                1. Rolling to this with speakers blaring?

                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OrNS2zbTZg

                  1. Oh, hell ya, That’d be a great “weer here mother fuckers” song. I had “cowboy” in mind at first, but that’s because I watch too much TV. Much better selection. You can be in the entourage. Pay isn’t great, but we do tend to get a lot of free beer while on tour.

                    1. El Camino? You should roll in with gear like The Great Humongous and his crew. And a few MRAPs.

              2. They see me rollin’
                They hatin’

              3. That’s “Country Rap”. Ain’t it?

                1. needs moar “ASS” though.

              4. Don’t forget the “Gas, Grass, or Ass; nobody rides for free” bumper sticker.

                The ultimate libertarian bumper sticker

            4. Can I be the minister of prostitution?
              you know
              for quality control…..

  6. OT: [The markets are expecting the] US Federal Reserve … to announce the end of its quantitative easing (QE) programme later.

    Well, of course it has to be “later”, you twits!

    Seriously, would someone *kindly* explain how “creating new money” can have any benefit at all?

    1. Well, it works great for counterfeiters. If we don’t let the govmint counterfeit, the terrorists will w!n.

      1. The Fed’s traditional ammunition, cutting interest rates, was running low … , taking the main interest rate target down to practically zero. So it began buying financial assets and creating new money to pay for them. In total, the Fed has added $3.7tn worth of assets to its holdings, about an eightfold increase.

        No counterfeiting of electrons needed. 8-(

    2. It benefits the first people who touch it. It’s just another tax for the rest of us though.

      1. Do these people have names?

        1. That’s classified information, mister. You don’t need to know, now get back to work and make yourself worthy of your great and beneficent leaders.

        2. It’s typically some of the larger banks, like the ones that played ball during the TARP bailouts.

        3. Do these people have names?

          Probably.

          Generally speaking, the member banks of the fed get the money at low interest rates, then they make low interest loans with it. The loan recipients are basically getting cheap new money, but still paying old money prices. In the case of QE, the first person to get the new money is whoever the fed bought the assets from(a lot of the same banks). Because they’re buying assets mainly from banks and other financial institutions the profit from selling the assets generally goes back into the stock market instead of being loaned out then circulated through the economy as a whole. This has two affects. 1. It props up the stock market which gives idiots like Obama and Wiegel cover to say the economy is doing great.2. It doesn’t show inflation on the CPI since the new money mainly circulates in the stock market, at least until the day when banks decide to start making loans with the profits the fed gave them.

  7. and anti-authoritarian liberals.

    There are some? Huh. I don’t know any.

    1. Oh, they exist, but they’re being pressured to shut up. In the eyes of the Unite Blue progtards, there’s nothing worse than being a splitter.

      1. You can find a few bitter clingers in the ACLU. But they’re probably secret racists.

        1. The SLPC has a blog post on the ACLU ready to go the moment their thoughtcrime level exceeds the tolerable threshold.

    2. No, they’re libertarians, but with no ballz, so they can’t admit it or their friends won’t like them anymore.

      but with no ballz

      Oops, damnit, this is why there are no female libertarians!

      1. Some of them really are just libertarians who haven’t given economic issues much thought. Some are turned off by the rest of the libertarian tribe (although why they’re not equally turned off by the other blues is up for discussion.) And some are genuinely just dumb about economics.

        Glenn Greenwald is a non-proggie liberal who is definitely not a libertarian.

        1. You know, GG really pisses me off. Sure, he recognizes how stupid liberals can be in terms of their Obama worship and ignorance of King Blue’s aggressive foreign policy, but when it comes to social and economic policy, the guy still has no idea what he’s talking about.

          There’s also the fact that he seems determined to preserve his liberal street cred, as well as his seat at the Lefty Cool Kids’ Table. Really bothersome.

        2. Honestly, I think there is probably a decent percentage of liberals who would abandon Team Blue for libertarianism if they could be convinced that the implications of libertarian economic policy are polar opposite of Team Red’s cronyism.

          1. Not if it means being ridiculed by their fellow liberals.

            Honestly, liberals like GG have convinced themselves that if libertarians economics were to have their day, the whole country would turn into a corporate-ocracy. Which is ridiculous, since what we have today is a corporate-ocracy, and it’s nowhere close to libertarianism.

            But hey, if people like GG want to remain ignorant of libertarian economic principles, then they can go right ahead. I remember him once saying that he wants to raise spending in terms of social spending, which is a ridiculous solution to a complex problem.

            1. Oh, damn.

              *libertarian economics were to have their day
              *spending in terms of social services

  8. A growing cross-partisan swath of the electorate is concerned about issues near and dear to the hearts of libertarians…

    Just don’t, you know, actually threaten to cut federal spending.

  9. I think the use of police brutality is wrong. It is more an issue of police paranoia. They sweep into a home with one maybe two people with flash bangs. Police have forgotten the serve part of serve and protect.

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  11. I hope Justin Amash becomes Speaker of the House if and when Boehner gets ousted. We need people like him in control at all levels of government. Utah’s Mike Lee can be Senate Majority Leader and Ted Cruz can be vice-president under a Rand Paul administration.

  12. Can you have some spare time to sit back in your chair having your laptop with you and making some money online for some interesting online work said Jenny Francis in the party last nightsee more what is for you there to increase your pocket money??.

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